If you love hiking then Texas is a great state to explore. There are so many different trails and some incredible views which will take your breath away. If you live in Texas then you have all of this incredible nature in your home state that you get out and enjoy in your free time.
We have put together a list of some of the best places to go hiking in Texas to help you decide on your next adventure. There are some easy trails and some more challenging ones so you should be able to find something to suit your experience level.
Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon is the Texas equivalent of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It has lots of interesting geological formations to marvel at and a choice of paths to explore. It is also dog friendly so you can take your furry friend with you.
Children under the age of twelve can get into the park for free and it is only five dollars for adults, which makes it a great place for families to visit.
The lighthouse is one of the most prominent geological features and there is a car park at the start of the trail. It is a 5.4 mile trail there and back with an elevation gain of 492 feet.
There is a bench at the lighthouse and you can actually climb onto the base of the rock formation. It is a great place to take photographs but it can get quite busy, so if you want an uninterrupted shot it is best to get there early. This also means you can avoid the heat!
Big Bend National Park
There is a little known trail in the Big Bend National Park which makes for a quiet and relaxing hike with lovely views. In your car, follow the Ross Maxwell scenic drive South until you reach the 3 mile marker and the sign for the Sam Nail ranch overlook.
There is a small opening in the scrub bush to the left which can be hard to spot. It takes you down a dirt road for about a mile or two to a remote parking area. Take the road slowly as there are some deep ruts.
Once you have parked up your car continue walking down the dirt track until you reach a barricade then take the trail that goes right, up the hill. This will lead you 1.5 miles up into the canyon along the Cattail Falls trail, so there and back again is a 3 mile hike in total.
Some areas of the hike have heavier vegetation – black bears have been spotted in this area so make sure you make plenty of noise! You also need to be careful if you go off the trail as there are a lot of poison oak in this area. There are also some large boulders on the trail.
It leads you to a pool at the foot of the Cattail falls- most of the year is only a small trickle but in the Spring rain there is often enough water to take a dip in the pool.
There are some other great hikes in the Big Bend National Park. If you take the trail to the left instead of the right it will lead you along the window trail to the Chisos Basin, with panoramic canyon views.
There is also a simple 1 mile loop off Hot Springs Road which takes you on a flat route to the geothermal hot springs of the Rio Grande River.
Alternatively you can take the Ross Maxwell scenic drive to the Santa Elena Canyon overlook at the end of the road. There are lots of spots along the way to stop and take photographs. At the overlook you can leave your car and follow a short hiking trail to the canyon which is 1.7 miles there and back. It is quite steep, with 610 feet elevation gain.
Guadalupe Peak Trail
If you like steep hikes and fantastic views then you will definitely want to try the Guadalupe Peak trail. Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas and this route has a total elevation gain of 2867 feet.
The first 1.5 miles of the hike is the most challenging, but the entire hike is fairly steep so it will be a good workout for your legs! The 8.5 mile route takes you up the North facing slope through a shady forest. After this, there is next to no shade for the rest of the hike so make sure you are prepared for the heat.
You can expect amazing views of El Capitan to the South as well as plenty of other peaks that rise out of the desert on the border of New Mexico.
There is an easier trail in the Guadalupe National Park which is basically flat and only 3 miles there and back. It takes you from a small shade picnic and parking area on a short but pleasant walk to the Gypsum sand dunes. The views of Guadalupe peak and El Capitan are amazing.
Before you start this walk you will need to head to the Pine Visitor center and speak to the park ranger, as the gate that leads to the picnic and parking area is often locked. They should let you borrow the key and can direct you to the right spot. You will need to leave the park and approach it from another direction to find the gate.
This is a relatively flat trail that takes you on a 5.13 mile loop of the Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg. There are plenty of parking spaces, public restrooms and a snack truck, and all of the trails are clearly signposted. Dogs are allowed in the park but not up to the summit of the rock itself.
The trail will take you through fields of small boulders and areas of desert vegetation as well as providing 360 degree views of Texas Hill Country. Make sure you take your camera as there are plenty of opportunities for stunning photographs.
The trail does not get crowded as the area is nice and flat so there is lots of space for everyone. Even at the summit there is plenty of space and incredible views all around you.
If you manage to make it there in time for sunset it will be one of the most beautiful skies you have seen. If you choose the West face for your descent you will see some interesting rock formations where granite has fractured away from the top layer of the rock and become frozen in place.
St Edwards Park
St Edwards Park in Austin offers some fantastic trails to suit various experience levels. The park is dog-friendly and even has a creek which is suitable for families to swim in.
The creek trail is the easiest hike. It is a 2 mile there and back trail which runs parallel to Bull creek with excellent views of sheer rock faces. Alternatively you could take the hill trail which is a more challenging hike up limestone formations.
You cross Bull creek using stacks of rocks and then proceed up the hill on the opposite side. It is worth the additional effort as the views are gorgeous.
In Needville, Texas, there is a 40 acre area of lakeland which is home to a lot of alligators, and over 300 different species of wildlife. There are over 25 miles of trails which you can tackle on foot, on your bike or even on horseback.
Make sure you familiarize yourself with how to keep yourself safe around alligators before you visit the park and remember to stay at least 30 feet away from them at all times. There is also a nature center, an observatory, and facilities for camping and fishing.
This is an excellent place to explore and one you can return to again and again without running out of things to do.
Crockett Gardens And Falls
This scene hike around Lake Georgetown is just under 8 miles, starting at Cedar Breaks Park. It is free to hike, but if you want to camp, fish or have a picnic there are fees you have to pay so make sure you check this before you go. This hike is one part of the San Gabriel Goodwater Loop which is 26 miles long.
It is a fairly easy section, with a few moderately steep bits. It can get very hot in the summer but the Cedar trees will offer some shade. The trail is very rocky so make sure you are wearing suitable boots with good ankle support.
You can expect fantastic views of the cliffs around the lake and some excellent spots to enjoy the sunset. 3 miles into the trail there is also an offshoot trail that leads to a cove with a small waterfall, perfect for having a quick dip to cool off.